Tag Archives: Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe – Tsvangirai now expels Biti from MDC

BBC
Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai ‘expels’ Tendai Biti from MDC

Morgan Tsvangirai has led the MDC since its launch in 1999

Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says his rival Tendai Biti has been expelled from their MDC party, along with eight other members.

Mr Biti was an “opportunist” who was being manipulated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, he said.

On Saturday, a faction led by Mr Biti said Mr Tsvangirai had been suspended from the MDC because of a “remarkable failure of leadership”.

The divisions in the MDC follow its defeat in the 2013 elections.

The election ended the coalition the MDC and Zanu-PF had formed after disputed elections in 2008.

Bogus’
Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Biti, the MDC secretary-general, had been long-standing allies in their campaign to remove Mr Mugabe from power, but fell out after the elections held in July last year.

Mr Tsvangirai said Mr Biti and the other “rebels” had been recalled from parliament.

President Robert Mugabe, 90, has been in power since 1980

Tendai Biti (L) and Mr Tsvangirai (R) used to work together to oust him
“He [Mr Biti] deceived us all. The man doesn’t believe in anything, except his power,” Mr Tsvangirai said, in his first comments since his suspension was announced.

On Saturday, Mr Biti’s faction said the MDC’s national council had voted to suspend Mr Tsvangirai because the party had been “transformed into a fiefdom of the leader”.

Mr Tsvangirai dismissed the meeting as “illegal, unconstitutional, illegitimate and bogus”.

Many MDC supporters are worried that the split could strengthen Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF and are hoping that the two leaders can resolve their differences, reports the BBC’s Brian Hungwe from the capital, Harare.

Mr Mugabe, 90, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

Second split
Mr Tsvangirai and Mr Biti played a key role in the launch of the MDC in 1999 to challenge Mr Mugabe’s grip on power.

The party’s formation led to a period of intense repression and violence against the MDC.

Mr Mugabe also ordered the seizure of white-owned farms, and the economy went into crisis.

The two parties formed a power-sharing government in 2009, following mediation efforts by regional leaders.

The unity government ended last year, with Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s victory in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mr Mugabe obtained 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for Mr Tsvangirai.

This is the second split in the MDC. In 2005, Mr Biti’s predecessor as secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, broke away to launch his own MDC faction.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27212025

Zimbabwe – MDC-T rebels suspend Tsvangirai

The Zimbabwean

MDC rebels “suspend” Tsvangirai, top members

MDC pro-reform rebels met today and announced the “immediate suspension” of party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and several other senior party members.

by Tawanda Majoni
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Tendai Biti, the MDC Secretary General, attended the Harare meeting that was chaired by Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

Elton Mangoma, whom the Tsvangirai faction recently fired for calling on Tsvangirai to step down, youth leader Solomon Madzore and provincials party representatives were also present

Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson of the rebels, told The Zimbabwean that Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, Abednico Bhebhe, Morgan Komichi (Deputy Chair), Douglas Mwonzora (Secretary for Information) and Nelson Chamisa (Organising Secretary) had been suspended by a “full quorum of the National Executive Council”.

“They were found guilty of political violence, undermining the values of the party and unconstitutional decisions,” said Mafume.

He said those that constituted the meeting voted by secret ballot, adding that all suspensions or expulsions of party members that had been made by the Tsvangirai group are null and void and must therefore be reversed.

The MDC leadership has been involved in intense turf battles from the beginning of the year.

The pro-change team that is apparently led by Biti wants Tsvangirai to go, accusing him of failing to steer the party to victory against Zanu (PF) in successive elections since 2000, in addition to undermining the MDC founding values of democracy, tolerance, peace and constitutionalism.

Recently, Tsvangirai claimed the internal differences had been resolved.

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http://www.thezimbabwean.co/news/zimbabwe/71394/mdc-rebels-suspend-tsvangirai-top.html

BBC
Zimbabwe: Opposition MDC suspends Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it is suspending its leader Morgan Tsvangirai for “deviating from democratic principles”.

The announcement, by MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, follows a party meeting in the capital Harare.

From 2009-2013 Mr Tsvangirai served as prime minister in a fragile power-sharing government, with Robert Mugabe remaining Zimbabwe’s president.

That unity government ended with the elections in July 2013.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-27173541

Zimbabwe MDC-T dissident refuses to recognize expulsion

South West Radio Africa

Posted by

mangoma

Elton Mangoma does not recognize his expulsion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The deputy The deputy treasurer-general of the MDC-T,Elton Mangoma , does not recognize his expulsion from the party for alleged gross indiscipline, his lawyer said on Friday.

Jacob Mafume told journalists in Harare that the expulsion of Mangoma is unconstitutional, as the clause cited by party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora in announcing his expulsion does not exist in the party constitution.

He also attacked party leader Morgan Tsvangirai for allegedly running the party as his own company, saying they will seek guidance from the party structures on the way forward.

When briefing journalists on the national council’s resolutions to expel Mangoma on Thursday, Mwonzora said the highest decision making body of the party had used clause 5.11 of the constitution to arrive at its decision.

He said Mangoma had been expelled not for challenging party leader Morgan Tsvangirai but for his continued transgressions of holding rallies and his relentless attacks on the party and its leaders.

Contacted for comment on Friday following Mafume’s statement that the clause does not exist in the constitution Mwonzora laughed and and challenged this writer to get a copy of their constitution.

‘You are a journalist why don’t you get a copy and read it yourself. Surely do you think more than 135 people can sit down and deliberate on a non-existent clause in our party constitution,’ added Mwonzora.

SW Radio Africa did check the MDC-T constitution and clause 5.11 reads: ‘A member may be expelled if: a) the national council (by a two thirds majority of all its members) is of the opinion that his or her continued membership would be seriously detrimental to the interests of the party.

The decision to expel Mangoma was unanimous after 131 members voted in favour to expel him while three abstained and one voted against. The voting exceeded the two thirds majority required.

Mafume is also expelled from the party along with youth assembly secretary-general Promise Mkwananzi and national executive member Last Maengahama.

Journalist and political commentator Itai Dzamara told us Mangoma’s expulsion puts to rest the renewal team’s push to oust Tsvangirai. ‘His (Mangoma) expulsion and that of the three others effectively puts this whole saga to an end. There will be no split from this…at least it gives them a chance to form their own party if they wish,’ Dzamara said.

We want to hear your thoughts and opinions, so leave us your comments on news@swradioafrica.com or Facebook. You can also join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting us using #Zim2013 .

Limited options for future of Zimbabwe politics

Mail and Guardian

Zim runs out of options

 

Bitter reality defies all talk of a new leader or movement to break the political stalemate in Zimbabwe.

Simba Makoni went up against Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and only got 8% of the vote. He describes the real majority as those who don't go to the polls. (Desmond Kwande)                    
Simba Makoni went up against Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai and only got 8% of the vote. He describes the real majority as those who don’t go to the polls. (Desmond Kwande)

                                   

After he was pushed out into the cold by Zanu-PF in 2005, a disillusioned Jonathan Moyo declared that Zimbabwe needed a “third way”.

Both Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had failed, Moyo wrote then, and “patriots” needed to forge a new “political and economic synthesis – where Zanu-PF is the failed thesis and the MDC the unsuccessful antithesis”.

Now, with Zanu-PF drifting along with no real solution to a deepening economic crisis and the MDC breaking itself apart, talk is again about the possibility of a “third way”.

But it is unlikely that disillusionment with the two main parties has grown sufficiently to make a third party viable. Zimbabwe remains polarised, with little space in the middle ground.

It is telling that, not long after Moyo bandied about the possibility of his “synthesis”, he himself was back in the Zanu-PF fold, saying “it’s cold out there”.

Many have tried to pull themselves away from Zanu-PF and the MDC, hoping to sell a brand of clean politics to counter the violence and patronage that have become hallmarks of Zanu-PF and the MDC.  But their careers now serve only as fodder in the hands of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe, who use their example to ward off internal criticism – go against me and you are out on your own.

‘It doesn’t work here’ Last year, Welshman Ncube ran on a platform of clean politics and decentralisation. He got only 2.6% of the presidential vote. In 2008, Simba Makoni broke from Zanu-PF, promising to forge an alliance with “progressive forces”. He got only 8%.

In a birthday interview last month, Mugabe offered a brutal assessment of that kind of politics: “It doesn’t work here.”

In recent meetings with his senior officials, Tsvangirai has also used the fate of his former allies as a whip. His public invitations to Ncube and others who have left the MDC were meant more as reminders to internal party rebels who may be thinking of branching out on their own.

Inside the MDC, even senior officials opposed to Tsvangirai admit that leaving the party is a major gamble. They insist the party will have to reform or watch its support fall further. The party’s campaign messages are tired and worn, secretary general Tendai Biti said last week.

“We were selling hopes and dreams when Zanu-PF was selling practical realities,” Biti said, in remarks that drew the fury of Tsvangirai’s backers.

But many within the party agree with him. “It is time the MDC quickly embarked on a steadfast process of evolution if it is to remain relevant to the emerging political dispensation,” Promise Mkwananzi, the MDC youth chairperson, said.

MDC will survive Other observers say that Tsvangirai will survive the current internal battles but the violence and intolerance will make it difficult to win over outsiders to the MDC.

“The MDC may well survive this, and Morgan may well remain its leader, enjoying the support of some of us, but the reality is that what is happening severely damages him and the party he leads,” McDonald Lewanika, a political activist, said.

Western nations are softening their position on Mugabe’s government but are actively encouraging the emergence of a new alliance of reformists from both sides. They are looking past Tsvangirai and, for the first time, openly criticising him.

But it is hard to see a new party, or a new opposition leader, emerging who has as much influence as Tsvangirai.

“His leadership of the MDC touched the collective consciousness of many in his country and it will be hard for any individual to recreate the impact he had,” a scholar, Simukai Tinhu, said.

‘No chance’ of a new party A senior Zanu-PF politburo member this week also dismissed the possibility of a new party emerging.

“If any new party is to have an impact, it would mean senior, well-known people leaving both the party [Zanu-PF] and the MDC to form some kind of alliance. There is no chance of that,” the official said.

In an interview last year, Makoni said the majority were, in fact, those who were not voting.

“People have been forced to believe they can only pick from three choices: Zanu-PF, the MDC or no party at all,” he lamented. “This is wrong.” M&G

Zimbabwe – Mugabe slams West and praises political rivals

New Zimbabwe
VETERAN leader Robert Mugabe was on Thursday sworn-in as president for the next five years in a ceremony attended by a handful of African leaders but boycotted by his erstwhile colleagues from the outgoing unity government.

The ceremony was held at the giant National Sports Stadium before a crowded gallery, which greeted the veteran leader with wild cheers when he entered the giant sports facility accompanied by his wife, Grace.

Mugabe was taken through his swearing-in rituals – his seventh such experience since becoming Zimbabwe’s founding leader in 1980 – by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in a ceremony that was broadcast live on national television.

In his inaugural speech that lasted more than an hour, Mugabe lashed out at Western governments that have refused to accept the outcome of the July 31st poll, which saw him garner 61 percent of the presidential vote.

“SADC, Comesa, the African Union, the ACP, the United Nations as well as many nations of good will have praised the elections here,” Mugabe said.

“We welcome this positive spirit, this encouragement which should see us do even better, move forward faster as a nation. But like in all elections, there will always be bad losers, real spoilers, it is a price we pay for electoral democracy, isn’t it?

“Indeed an inevitable phase in our growth as a people where the democratic practice, where such a grousing stance remains non antagonistic, where it expresses itself within the four corners of the law. It must be tolerated as part of the Democratic tussles, part of electoral adjustments.

“For those old western countries who happen to hold a different negative view of our electoral process and outcome, well there is not much we can do about them. We dismiss them as the vile ones whose moral turpitude we must mould.

“They are entitled to their views for as long as they recognise that the majority of our people endorsed the electoral outcome. Indeed for as long as they recognise that no Zimbabwean law was offended against and for us that is all that matters.

“After all Zimbabwean elections are meant for Zimbabwean voting citizens; after all Zimbabwean democracy is meant for the people of Zimbabwe who must within certain periods go to the polls to choose and install a government of their choice.
“It is their sole prerogative and no outsiders however superior or powerful they may imagine themselves to be, can override that right, let alone take it from them. It is our inherent right, we fought for it when it was lost we won it through our own blood, we keep it for us and posterity, we reserve it forever as an expression of our sovereignty as a free people.

“Today we tell those dissenting nations that the days of colonialism and neo-colonialism have gone and gone forever. Today it is Britain and her dominions of Australia and Canada who dare tell us that our elections were not fair and credible.

“Today it is America and her illegal elections with all that past of enslaving us, it is America that dares raise a censorious voice over our affairs and says our elections were not fair, were not credible, yes today it is these Anglo-Saxon who dare contradict Africa’s verdict over elections in Zimbabwe, an African country. But who are they we ask? Whoever gave them the gift of seeing better than all of us?”

The US has ruled out lifting its sanctions while the UK said it wanted an independent audit to investigate “allegations of election irregularities”. The EU also “serious concerns” about the conduct of the elections and said it would take this into consideration when reviewing its sanctions against the country.

But Mugabe insisted that said the flawless conduct of the July 31 elections left countries hostile to his government with no excuse for maintaining the sanctions which he blames for the country’s economic problems.

“Yesterday the pretext for imposing those sanctions was to do with a deficit of democracy here. Today we ask those culprit nations what their excuse is. What is it now? Whose interests are those sanctions meant to serve?”

The veteran leader extended an olive branch to his former partners in the inclusive government.

“I owe nothing but praise and respect to my GPA era partners who are also my fellow countrymen. I am referring to former Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and much later Professor Welshman Ncube,” Mugabe said, adding that their collaboration as an inclusive government helped produce the country’s first ever post-independence constitution.

“We have worked together initially compelled by GPA protocol, we found each other and proceeded to produce the current constitution but it was the constitution to help us mould the way of life we have chosen for ourselves on this our land, our country together and for as long as our nation subsists, so will elections and the opportunities they offer also subsist.

“Our own destiny bids us to work together never at cross purposes, we will be having competitions, having winners and losers but we are not competing, we shall never be competing to be Zimbabweans. No, that was a fight we fought and that was the gift that our country gave us, that we shall all we the citizens of this country be Zimbabweans.”

African leaders present were President Joseph Kabila of DRC, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, and Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini.

Zambian leader Michael Sata was represented by his deputy Guy Scott while former South African leader and now Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe stood in for President Jacob Zuma.

Former Presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa both from Tanzania, Dr Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa , Sam Nujoma (Namibia), Sir Quett Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae both from Botswana also attended the inauguration.

But, and as expected, the two MDC formations boycotted the ceremony, which was however attended by Mutambara.

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said Thursday he would now turn his attention to addressing the country economic problems and delivering on his election promises following his inauguration before a capacity 60,000 crowd at the national sports stadium in Harare.

Festooned in a sash, garland and medals, the 89-year-old was sworn in for his seventh term as leader of the country by chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku during a ceremony also attended by several current and former regional leaders.

“I stand before you as now a sworn President of Zimbabwe,” he told he told cheering crowd.
“My mandate comes from the just-ended election in which I should say through my party, Zanu PF, you gave me and my party that mandate as the party won the elections resoundingly.”

Unlike previous low-key investitures, Thursday’s event – replete with banners, flags and chants – carried strong echoes of Mugabe’s inauguration as prime minister of a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980.

Hints by the West that debilitating sanctions would likely be kept in place and a no-show by leaders from neighbouring countries – including President Jacob Zuma of regional power-broker South Africa – did little to dampen enthusiasm.

Neither did a boycott by opposition leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who insists the 31 July vote was stolen.

Mugabe was greeted in the stadium by thunderous cheers and whistling. On board a military truck he inspected assembled military personnel.

His address however, showed an awareness of the enormity of the task he faces following his landslide victory in the elections which also ended his coalition arrangement with Tsvangirai.

“There are key truths that come with that victory, which come with that honour,” he said.
“The peasant who cast his vote on July 31 created my victory and that made a portion of my presidency. I am at his service. I am his emissary and servant. He or she did not cast that precious vote in vain.

“The business person, he or she too voted for me, contributing to my presidency. He or she too has definite expectations founded on his or her role in society as a creator of work. So, all these and others who contributed to our victory have also expectations.

“What shall we do now to contribute towards their own lives? The farmer – small, medium, big – voted for my party, thereby assisting in my presidency. His vote was his input.

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“I am the instrument of his dream, the self-employed man and woman all struggling on the margin of the former economy, in the SMEs, he or she has greater expectations. Great expectations from all of them. They have lives to build; they have children to look after, generations to take care of.

“The new cabinet is expected to move very swift in mobilising adequate resources for farmers and electricity to make a return of food sufficiency. (We must) think about all those demands on us. Let us therefore think of our obligations and ways and means to fulfil those expectations, to satisfy them.

“In Bulawayo, water must be re-supplied. We cannot have erratic water supplies in cities. Hospitals and clinics must have adequate drugs and equipment. Road maintenance equipment for the rural development agencies must be improved.

“The mining sector will be the centrepiece of our economic recovery and growth. It should generate growth spurts across sector; reignite that economic miracle which must now happen.”

He added: “I promise you better conditions (but also) call upon you all to summon your goodwill to live the skills you now have; (and we created a lot of skills amongst us) those skills must now be put to use.”

The veteran leader rejected western criticism of his re-election but conceded that sanctions which had been eased to encourage the country to hold free and fair elections would now likely remain in place.

“We dismiss them as the vile ones whose moral turpitude we must mourn,” he said venting against Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States.

“Most likely we shall remain under these sanctions for much longer (but) we continue to look East.”
Gates to the Chinese-built stadium opened shortly after dawn. The day had been declared a public holiday, helping boost attendance.

Banners around the oval stadium carried messages praising African leaders and denouncing Western governments accused of meddling in Zimbabwe’s political affairs.

“Which African ever observed elections in Europe, America?” read one banner. “Africa has spoken, respect it’s voice,” said another.

The inauguration had been delayed after Tsvangirai challenged the poll results – which he denounced as “massive fraud” – in a petition to the Constitutional Court that was later withdrawn.

The Constitutional Court confirmed Mugabe as president and declared the elections “free, fair and credible”, saying the results “reflected the free will of the people of Zimbabwe”.

Eldred Masunungure, a political scientist from the University of Zimbabwe, said the event was at once Mugabe’s victory lap and his “last supper”.

“This inauguration is being projected as the crowning of a victory of a struggle for the past 13 years against big Western powers,” he said.

There is however also an “unintended meaning”, he said. “It can be read as a farewell event for Mugabe. It reminds one of Jesus’s Last Supper.”

http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-12141-I+promise+you+better+conditions+Mugabe/news.aspx

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Zimbabwe – MDC drops challenge to election saying it won;t get fair hearing

Reuters

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe addresses the crowd gathered to commemorate Heroes Day in Harare August 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC withdrew a court challenge against President Robert Mugabe’s re-election through a vote the party had denounced as fraudulent, saying on Friday it would not get a fair hearing.

Mugabe, 89, and his ZANU-PF party were declared winners of the July 31 election but the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had filed a motion for the constitutional court to overturn the result.

A hearing on the MDC challenge, which had alleged widespread vote-rigging and intimidation by ZANU-PF, had been planned for Saturday.

“I can confirm that we have withdrawn the presidential election petition. There are a number of reasons, including the failure by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release critical evidence in this matter,” MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said.

The decision appeared to end any hope of further action by the MDC through the courts, which Tsangirai’s party have said are dominated by ZANU-PF along with other state institutions in the southern African nation, formerly known as Rhodesia.

Tsvangirai, whose party has been plunged into crisis after its third failure to unseat Mugabe through elections, has dismissed the vote as a “huge fraud” and a “coup by ballot”.

In his withdrawal letter to the Constitutional Court, Tsvangirai said the MDC would continue its fight to restore democracy.

“This, sadly, as far as I am concerned entails that the Zimbabwe situation is far from resolved and on my part, as the leader of my political party, I shall endeavour to use all democratic means to bring about the successful resolution of this issue,” he said.

Political analysts said Tsvangirai has been careful not to speak about street protests, fearing a crackdown on his MDC leadership by Mugabe’s security forces.

Mugabe, emboldened by the election results, has vowed to press on with his plan to have foreign companies in the country turn over majority stakes to local blacks, a policy analysts said has deterred investment and been a drag on the economy.

FRESH TERM FOR VETERAN LEADER

Tsvangirai’s case withdrawal paves the way for Mugabe, who is attending a summit of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) in neighbouring Malawi, to be sworn in for another five-year term.

Observer missions from SADC and the African Union, while acknowledging some problems, have broadly endorsed the vote and called on all parties to accept it peacefully.

SADC leaders are also expected to endorse the poll but there has been some dissention in the ranks with member Botswana calling for an independent audit, saying evidence available so far meant the elections could not be considered acceptably free and fair.

Under Zimbabwe’s constitution, a president must be sworn in within 48 hours after the constitutional court has dealt with any legal challenges.

Mugabe’s lawyer Fred Gijima said the MDC’s withdrawal on the eve of court hearing was unprocedural, and the court was still expected to officially make a ruling.

Mugabe, Africa’s oldest and one of its longest-serving leaders, this week told critics of his re-election to “go hang”, making clear he would brook no questioning of his disputed victory either from the West or his MDC rival.

In its arguments to the Constitutional Court calling for an election re-run, the MDC alleged hundreds of thousands of voters were turned away, and that the voters’ roll was flawed, containing at least 870,000 duplicated names.

A preliminary assessment by the leading domestic observers’ body, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), called the election “seriously compromised”, saying registration flaws may have disenfranchised up to a million people out of 6.4 million registered voters.

Pointing to flaws in the July 31 vote cited by domestic observers, Western governments – especially the United States – have questioned the credibility of the election outcome and are considering whether to prolong sanctions against Mugabe.

But Mugabe is drawing comfort from African election observers who endorsed the elections as largely free and orderly and have urged Zimbabweans to move on peacefully. Western observers were barred from observing the vote.  reuters

AU says Zimbabwe elections provisionally free and fair

Mail and Guardian

01 Aug 2013  Mmanaledi Mataboge

Zimbabweans have begun the anxious wait for election results amid fears of vote-rigging, raised particularly by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabweans line up to vote in their national election. (Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)
Zimbabweans line up to vote in their national election. (Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)

            

Observers have however so far given Wednesday’s elections a thumbs up. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) undertook to release the results within five days.

Head of the African Union observer mission, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, told the media on Wednesday night that he considered the elections provisionally “free and fair”.

“From what I saw and the reports that I’ve received so far from our observers who went out in the field, the conduct of the elections everywhere they went to was peaceful, orderly and free and fair,” Obasanjo said.

“My hope is that this is what we’ll get from all polling stations from across the country.”

Obasanjo was soon echoed by the ZEC, which also said all went well.

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told journalists that all provinces reported that “polling was peaceful and orderly across the board”.

SADC’s executive secretary Tomas Salomao said he was “impressed” by Zimbabwe’s elections.

Turned away Several voters were turned away from polling stations in different parts of the country, raising unhappiness within opposition parties.

Some voters were turned away because they didn’t appear on the voters’ roll, despite producing registration slips as evidence that they had registered.

Obasanjo said people were turned away because they were either at a wrong polling station or didn’t have their identity documents or registration certificates.

“Where people were permanently sent back it was because they were registered after July 9.  The date on which they registered was not the date that allows them to vote,” Obasanjo said.

He however said Zimbabwe’s authorities did their best to resolve cases that were reported to them. “I saw several cases where the response from branch headquarters [for complaints] came back positive.”

Zimbabweans voted for a new president, who’s likely to be Zanu-PF president Robert Mugabe or Tsvangirai.

While Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since the country’s independence in 1980, it’s the third time that Tsvangirai is trying to be elected to the presidential seat.

Police warn against unofficial results Meanwhile, police in Zimbabwe warned they would arrest persons or groups that release unofficial results of the country’s fiercely fought elections.

Traditionally independent local vote-monitoring groups collate parallel tallies as results trickle in from polling stations after counting.

But this year, police warned “all people who may wish to announce the results of elections before ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) does so, that they risk being arrested,” police spokesperson Charity Charamba told reporters.

The warning also applies to online publication, she added.

“It does include websites because it still has the same effect.

“The fact that it is on the website still [means] a crime has been committed and if those people are within this country then they will be arrested,” she said.

Several online platforms are set to break unofficial results as they come in.

The threat did not seem to deter various organisations and people to post provisional tallies on microblogging site Twitter.

Britain’s The Guardian and the Mail & Guardian, whose publisher is a Zimbabwean national, have set up online voting trends maps for the presidential polls.

You can view the M&G‘s voting trends map here.

Zimbabwe-based pro-democracy group Sokwanele has created an interactive election results map, while the ZimDecides website catalogued problem incidents around the polls.

The police warning followed President Robert Mugabe’s threat on Sunday to arrest his foe Morgan Tsvangirai if he attempts to declare early victory.

Tsvangirai earlier told supporters he would announce a tally based on his party’s parallel collation if there were delays in the official results. – Additional reporting by AFP


Zimbabweans vote in crucial election

IPS

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told an estimated crowd of 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare’s Freedom Square on Jul. 29 that his party had not being able to verify the names on the voters’ roll. Credit: Jeffrey Moyo/IPS

HARARE, Jul 31 2013 (IPS) – “We definitely can’t miss this grand chance to cast our vote. It’s like Zimbabwe is just gaining independence; the excitement to see a new government coming into power is just incredible and we hope we get a new Zimbabwe rolling again,” 38-year-old Mildred Saungweme from Harare’s Hatfield suburb, told IPS.

On Wednesday, Jul. 31, the country is set to choose a president. It will be the third time that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T), has challenged President Robert Mugabe for power. Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu–PF), has been in office for 33 years.

However, ahead of Wednesday’s vote, election observers from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had doubts whether the poll would be credible.

“I’m worried [that the] voters’ current excitement may be hampered by certain forces determined to steal this election,” an AU observer speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS.

“The risk of escalating violence and other human rights abuses after the election results are announced remains high because the infrastructure of violence remains intact.” — Human Rights Watch director for Southern Africa, Tiseke Kasambala
Hours before polling stations across this southern African nation opened at 5am, voters were still struggling to find out where they could verify their names on the electoral roll.

Those who knew where they would vote, like 73-year-old Tambudzai Gavi from Harare’s Mabvuku suburb, said they were willing to wait overnight in queues in order to cast their ballots.

“We have had one party, Zanu–PF, which has failed to deliver its promises for 33 years. I will sleep in the queue to make sure nobody will have an excuse to deny me the chance to cast my vote,” Gavi told IPS. Results are expected no later than Aug. 5.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has been criticised by political parties and civil society organisations for failing to make the electoral roll available before the polls. There are an estimated 6.4 million registered voters, but concerns have been raised about the number of dead still on the roll.

According to the Electoral Act, the ZEC is required to provide all contesting political parties and observers who request it either a printed or electronic copy of the electoral roll.

“We wonder how names on the voters’ roll are going to be verified if the electronic voters roll has still not been made public,” Tawanda Chimhini, director of Elections Resource Centre, an independent elections organisation in Zimbabwe, told IPS.

Tsvangirai told an estimated crowd of 40,000 supporters at a rally in Harare’s Freedom Square on Jul. 29 that his party had not being able to verify the names on the voters’ roll. “About a day before the elections, ZEC has not presented us with the electronic voters’ roll, something which renders questionable its credibility to run this election,” Tsvangirai said.

International rights group Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Africa director, Daniel Bekele, told IPS that as legal and institutional reforms, including those to reform the security sector and the ZEC, had not been implemented, it did not create a space for free and fair elections.

“In spite of the difficult human rights environment, the elections are going ahead as a critical test both for Zimbabwe and the regional observers, SADC and AU in particular, to demonstrate genuine commitment to reflect the will of Zimbabwean people,” Bekele said.

“If the elections are rigged, Zimbabwe risks plunging into a complicated political crisis and the risk of violence and other human rights abuses is high,” added Bekele.

Already, ahead of the election there have been reports of violence, abductions and intimidation. IPS reported claims that local traditional leaders were cautioning villagers against voting for the MDC-T to avoid post-election violence by Zanu-PF. There were also reports of suspected Zanu-PF officials seizing voters’ identity cards.

On Jul. 30 reports by local media stated that riot police had been deployed to potential trouble areas in central Zimbabwe.

Related IPS Articles

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Militias Spread Fear of Voting
Voting to Save Zimbabwe’s Economy
Zimbabweans Wary of Another Stolen Election
No Zimbabwe Media Reforms, Just More Intimidation
HRW’s director for Southern Africa, Tiseke Kasambala, told IPS that it would be difficult for voters to cast their ballots freely in light of these abuses.

“Zimbabwe’s unity government, consisting of the former ruling Zanu-PF and the two MDC factions, has failed to implement legal and institutional reforms to address various political, institutional and human rights issues ahead of elections,” Kasambala said.

She said that although the new Zimbabwean constitution, which was signed into law in May, had implemented some reforms; these were insufficient to level the political playing field as there has been no repeal or amendment of repressive legislation.

The country still needs to amend repressive laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which stipulates that journalists should register annually with the Zimbabwe Media and Information Commission, and the Public Order and Security Act, which criminalises the reporting of falsehoods and leaves journalists open to litigation.

“The risk of escalating violence and other human rights abuses after the election results are announced remains high because the infrastructure of violence remains intact, and there has been no accountability for previous human rights abuses, including the 2008 political violence,” added Kasambala.

In 2008, following the disputed election that saw Mugabe hold on to power, violence erupted across the country. In a 2011 report titled Perpetual Fear: Impunity and Cycles of Violence in Zimbabwe, HRW stated that Zanu-PF had been responsible for abuses that led to the deaths of 200 people, and the beating and torture of 5,000 more.

Despite this, MDC-T supporters were excited ahead of the vote.

“We know Tsvangirai is going to win this election and form a new democratic government to relegate President Robert Mugabe to the dustbin of history,” 31-year-old Patricia Hove, a staunch MDC-T supporter, told IPS.

However, most Zanu-PF hardliners claim that a MDC-T victory means the country runs the risk of falling into an era of neo-colonialism.

“If MDC-T wins this election, we run the risk of falling into the hands of an indirect leadership of Britain again because this party is a puppet of Britain and America, countries which feed it money to garner support from ordinary Zimbabweans,” Goodson Nguni, a well know Zanu-PF leader, told IPS.

Meanwhile, 36-year-old unemployed civil engineer Nigel Samuriwo was looking forward to casting his vote. Samuriwo graduated 13 years ago, but he has not been able to find a job since.

“I’m so excited about this election. I’m so optimistic it will bring change in my life and a job I have never had under Mugabe’s government, which sparked the closure of several companies,” Samuriwo told IPS.
http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/07/zimbabwe-votes-in-critical-test-of-freedom/

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Zimbabwe – Mugabe says he will step down if defeated

BBC

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe vows to step down if defeated

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses at a rally in Harare on 28 July 2013 President Robert Mugabe has said he is confident of victory

 

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has said he will quit after 33 years in power if he loses Wednesday’s election.

“If you lose you must surrender,” the Zanu-PF party leader said.

His remarks came as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party accused Zanu-PF of doctoring the voters’ roll.

Zanu-PF denied the accusation, saying it was the responsibility of the electoral commission, which released the roll only on the eve of polls.

The BBC’s Farayi Mungazi in the capital, Harare, has seen the document and says it features the names of thousands of dead people.

Some names also appear twice or three times with variations to their ID numbers or home address.

Mr Mugabe will be facing Mr Tsvangirai in the presidential ballot.

The two long-time rivals have been sharing power since 2009, under a deal brokered by the regional bloc to end conflict that marred elections in 2008. bbc

How important is ethnicity in Zimbabwean politics and elections?

African Arguments

Ethnic politics on the Zimbabwean campaign trail: do voters really care? – By Marko Phiri

February 19, 2013

Since independence in 1980, there appears to have been an ingrained political psyche peculiar to Zimbabwe’s Matebeleland region, where the political landscape has been painted in ethnic colours.  Historians say today’s tribal politics date back to the 1960s and 70s when nationalists were agitating for independence from the then white minority regime. This is dismissed by those who insist that the liberation struggle was ‘ethnicity blind’ – the main nationalist formations, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) having within their ranks diverse ethnic compositions.  Yet this question is once again on the table as the country prepares for polls slated for 2013, which could still be pushed back to 2014 and even 2015 according to some reports.

From the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu which entered into a “unity pact” with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF in 1987, to the revived version of the party under the leadership of a former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa, to Welshman Ncube’s MDC, there remains a reading of local politics through an ethnocentric prisms, despite protestations by the political leaders that these definitions are fictions created by ‘tribalists’.

Zapu was itself revived in 2008 as a protest to what was seen by Ndebele politicians in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, as Mugabe’s reluctance to recognise the underdevelopment of Matebeleland. Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa was accused by erstwhile Zapu comrades who remained in Zanu PF as sowing seeds of ethnic division. This was despite the fact that Dabengwa endorsed Simba Makoni’s failed bid for the Zimbabwe presidency in the 2008 under his Mavambo-Kusile project.

Mavambo-Kusile itself presented yet another twist to the country’s enthopolitics where a political leader from Matebeleland would endorse a leader from the Shona majority, something already criticised by activists here who say they want to reverse the myth that no Ndebele can rule Zimbabwe.

The financial difficulties this political outfit finds itself mired in – threatening its participation in the coming polls – also raises questions about its support base. The country’s main political parties rely not only on largess from well-heeled supporters, but also from subscriptions from grassroots members.

Another twist in the ethnopolitics of Zimbabwe concerns differences within the dominant Shona ethnic group. Some contend that Zimbabwe will never be ruled by anyone who isn’t a Shona – itself a group made of up from numerous dialects, which themselves have been subject to unending debate about one particular group dominating the country’s politics.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is also MDC-T Secretary General, kicked up a storm when he commented that it was time politicians from other Shona dialects took over the State.  It was, however, an acknowledgement of what cannot be ignored: Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, carries the burden of ethnic politics, and it is still instructive that some of Mugabe’s harshest criticism has emerged from his own Shona tribesmen and women.

Albeit latent, these ethnic tensions remain, but it is another thing altogether if political leaders can harness these in pursuit of political office.  But whether or not voters really care about ethnicity remains a question that will be answered in the coming polls, if those stoking ethnic emotions have their way.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T originally emerged as an eclectic mix of Zimbabweans of all hues and ethnicities. However, MDC-N is now being identified as unabashedly pro-Ndebele (as seen, for example, in reader comments on the MDC-N’s Facebook wall). This could be a test for those players who are expressly pro-Matebeleland, some critics say anti-Shona, and have been on the vanguard pushing for a separate Ndebele state.

I listen a lot to people talking politics here, but always wonder if ‘ordinary’ voters really care about voting preferences based on tribal/ethnic loyalties. Some critics believe that political parties emerging from Matebeleland seek to cash-in on the ‘angry vote’ where long disgruntled people from the region accuse Robert Mugabe of deliberate economic marginalisation and are therefore expected to vote for a regional political party led by their ‘own people.’

Welshman Ncube, fingered by Tsvangirai and others as pushing the ethnic ticket, dismisses this. He asserts himself as a ‘national politician’ despite Tsvangirai casting aspersions on him claiming that he is a ‘village politician’ (due to confining his campaign trail to rural parts of Matebeleland). Ncube has had to shrug-off that rather odious tag by insisting that he is not some kind of tribal lord, but a genuine contender to the national political throne.

The history of Zimbabwe’s post-independence elections shows the rural vote to be the largest bloc, with Mugabe for years claiming the rural areas as his main support base. Ncube could, after all, be playing politics as usual – strategising that if he can penetrate this demographic, he could turn out as a genuine political powerhouse rather than a politician who has been accused by political opponents of appealing to ethnic loyalties and stoking tribal hate in the process.

The issue of language and ethnic belonging has come out as important in attempting a forensic detailing of how Zimbabweans in fact choose or will choose their leaders.  It didn’t assume such importance in previous polls, where Tsvangirai emerged to challenge Robert Mugabe, but it is no doubt gaining resonance in contemporary politics, especially in light of the coming election.  Anger is growing, especially in Bulawayo, where whole industries have shut down with some relocating to the capital city Harare amid little or no government intervention towards an economic bailout for these firms.

Morgan Tsvangirai managed to capture the people’s hopes and aspirations in Matebeleland and presented himself as a man of the people and nothing was being said in 2008 about voting for a Shona in Matebeleland being anathema.  If anything at all was being said, it emerged from fringe pressure groups such as Ibhetshu Likazulu, which fashions itself as secessionist and has always questioned the logic of voting for a Shona – the very people Ibhetshu accuses of “killing our people” during the Gukurahundi back in the early 1980s. Ncube himself has claimed that while Tsvangirai presents himself as a paragon of democracy, MDC-T continues to offer token positions to people from Matebeleland, a pointer for many here that tribalism cuts across the country’s politics with poorly disguised fervour.

MDC-N Secretary General Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, who is also a government minister, claims both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are anti-Ndebele “tribalists,” a barb that apparently only buttresses the assertion that ethnicity is a critical factor in today’s politics. The anger from the 1980s Gukurahundi killings lingers on with those identified perpetrators insisting it is a closed chapter of Zimbabwe’s history. Ncube, like his MDC-faction’s Secretary General, Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, says there is a general belief within Zanu PF and the MDC-T that politicians from Matebeleland are not cut out to lead Zimbabwe in their own right. But as politicians bicker about ethnicity and the national interest, voters could still find themselves hard done by a poll that has too many political parties that will split the vote. The fear is that this could in fact hand over victory to the long-despised Robert Mugabe.

Two controversial opinion polls issued this year attempted to take the pulse of voting trends in Zimbabwe and tried to map the voting trends and preferences based on the country’s regions.  The Freedom House survey entitled Change and ‘New’ Politics in Zimbabwe put it this way:

“The survey results suggest that the MDC‐T’s support base had become more Shona‐centered than it had been in 2010 when the Ndebele constituted a slightly higher proportion of those that declared they would vote MDC‐T than the Shona. The MDC‐T also continues to have substantial support in the Karanga, Ndau, Zezeru and Manyika groups. ZANUPF’s support base also appears to have been in flux. The single biggest ethnic chunk of its support now seems to come from the Korekore group, followed by Shona, Zezeru, Karanga, Ndebele and Ndau. The 2012 ethnic profile of the ‘vote is my secret’ category is not clearly differentiated from those of the two main parties. This grouping is predominantly Shona, followed by Zezeru, Karanga, Ndebele and Manyika.”

It is curious that recent studies had, up until now, failed to train the spotlight on this dynamic, a variable that is emphasised in American opinion polls where minority groups or any other demographic is polled to find out whether they will vote Republican or Democrat.

One wonders though whether the tribal/ethnic breakdown of voter intentions is really useful or whether it overemphasizes overt ethnicity-based political affiliations, when what the country has seen in previous elections is bloody political violence spurred by mere political party affiliation.

Marko Phiri is a journalist/writer based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.